While many terrible things came out of the pandemic, one positive thing that emerged was the chance for people to discover new, socially distant hobbies. One activity the people flocked to was camping. It’s perfect, right? What could be more socially distant than moving your pandemic circle of contacts into the secluded forest? By some accounts, one in five people who camped during the pandemic were trying it for the first time ever, and another one in five people reported camping again for the first time in many years. The rise in camping was clear. Campsite reservations were harder to come by, parking lots were full, and trails were packed with people. (I know there were downsides to the extra strain on natural areas, but I’m focusing on the positives for now.)
Memorial Day weekend was always a busy time for campgrounds, pandemic or not. This year, kind of sort of coming out of the pandemic, it was even busier. Suddenly the knowledge that you can book campsites 11 months in advance was critical.
This year we camped at Potawatomi State Park in southern Door County. This 1,200 acre park sits on the southern shore of Sturgeon Bay. The park as a whole is a gorgeous, water focused park. I’ll get to that in another post. For now I want to focus on just the campsites.
The park has 123 campsites in the family campground, Daisy Field Campground, split into a northern and southern unit. Both sections have their own water sources and vault toilets but share one flush toilet and shower building in the middle. I did not venture into this building. It was far away and always looked super crowded when driving past. There’s a campground store near the shower building where you can buy firewood.
The park also has two accessible campsites and an accessible cabin, Cabin by the Bay. The cabin was designed by a committee of people with disabilities with the goal of making it highly usable for a variety of people.
We stayed at site 49 in the southern campground. Having never been to this campground, I selected this site because it appeared (on the map) slightly more spaced out from the other sites and was near a bathroom. Usually my method is great. This time it was not helpful at all.
Site 49! This picture demonstrates a theme of the campground in one photo. Notice how you can see our neighbor’s tent, car, and picnic table.
The site was spacious enough and well maintained. It had a nice fire grate and even had a bench in addition to the picnic table.
Those are vault toilets in the background. I like to do pro and con lists when I consider campgrounds and campsites and where I want to return to year after year. I can’t decide where this one fits, but I’m leaning towards “con.” Easy access on a private path to bathrooms? Yes. Often getting a whiff of the vault toilets? Also yes.
Neighbors on one of our sides. You could see it all. You could hear it all. You could smell it all. No secrets here!
Neighbors on the other. You’re seeing the theme, right?
While our campsite wasn’t a winner, I can make recommendations of other sites that seem better. The sites on the wester side of the campground (34-48) have a unique landscape on one of their sides. This is site 38. You can see the rock ledge running along the back. While it doesn’t solve the problem of getting more space from the sites next to you, at least you only have to worry about it on two sides. Be warned though, this neighbor has been known to rock. (ba dum tss.)
Reflecting back on this trip, I have mixed feelings. The park itself had pretty trails running along the water, but also had trails that were a bit of a letdown (more on that later.) The campsite was…fine. But definitely ranks somewhere in the bottom half of campsites I’ve been to. Would I come back? That depends. Is it cheap lodging while staying in Door County? For sure. Would I make this park a destination for the sole purpose of camping and hiking in the park boundaries? Probably not.